Essential oils have been popular therapeutic and medicinal treatments for a long time. They can be used to help you relax and unwind, clean cuts and scrapes, and to soothe and moisturize the skin. Most essential oils are too potent to apply to the skin directly, but they can often be used topically if they are diluted with another oil, known as a carrier oil. Here’s a quick look at some of the best ways to use essential oils in a beauty routine.
Moisturizer and Cleanser
Carrier oils, like jojoba or avocado, can be great moisturizing agents. The oils soak into the pores of your skin and help trap the moisture that is already there. Carriers with exceptional moisturizing properties are known as humectants, which means that they pull in and retain water.1 An example would be vegetable glycerin or castor oil.
There are also many essential oils with antimicrobial properties, and these are great for helping kill bacteria that may cause pimples or blackheads.2
Coconut oil is a good carrier oil for making essential oil-based moisturizing creams. It’s solid at room temperature, but it melts when exposed to the skin. It is quite thick, but it is still readily absorbed by the skin, which means that it provides you the best chance of having the other essential oils be absorbed too. It also makes a good cleanser and makeup remover since the oil will adhere to the makeup particles, allowing you to wipe them off of your skin quite easily.
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You can even make all-natural exfoliating scrubs using fine salts or sugar with a few drops of essential oils or using oats if you want something a little milder. These will slough off dead skin and moisturize the skin underneath, leaving your complexion looking smooth and fresh.
Essential oils can be a good part of a hair care routine as well. Keeping long hair looking fresh and healthy is not always easy, especially if you like to dye, perm, or style it. Some sports, such as swimming, can be hard on your hair, and even using heat on your hair with straighteners or a hairdryer can take its toll.
Using carrier oils that are rich in Vitamin E and saponins can be helpful for nourishing your hair and preventing split ends. These can also help to protect your hair from sun damage.3
Argan oil is a good carrier oil choice for hair care because it is rich in Vitamin E and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A good way to use argan oil is to massage a small amount onto your hair, wrap your head with a towel, and leave the oil to soak into your hair overnight, then rinse it out in the shower with a mild shampoo the next morning. Depending on the type of hair you have, add an essential oil of choice to this mix.
If you’re struggling with acne, then you may want to try using essential oils to help reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Vitamin E is a good antioxidant that can help with this, as can the antimicrobial effects of many essential oils, such as tea tree oil.
Vitamin A is also useful, as are essential fatty acids that can help nourish the skin and promote skin repair. Studies show that deficiency in vitamin A can aggravate certain skin conditions, so using carrier oils such as rosehip oil in the treatment of acne could be beneficial.4 One great option for treating acne, as well as other conditions such as dermatitis, is to make soaps using lye, coconut oil, and some of your favorite essential oils.
Plant oils are incredibly versatile and can be used to make almost anything, from solid hand creams that will melt as you use them, to deodorants, lip balms, and more. Most people will start their essential oil adventures with body washes, scrubs, and creams, since these are relatively simple to make, but once you learn the textures of the different carrier oils and how to manipulate them to get the effect you want, it’s pretty easy to make other products as well.
Not all aspects of your beauty routine have to involve skin, hair or nails, either. Your scent is another important part of your beauty routine. If you don’t like wearing normal perfumes because they irritate your skin or are too overpowering, then why not make an essential oil based perfume or even a solid perfume.
Solid perfume lockets are a great innovation that will allow you to take your favorite scent with you in your jewelry. Mix up some beeswax (gently melted) and jojoba oil and add a few drops of your favorite scents (clary sage, lavender, grapefruit, mint, and juniper all work well) and then pour out a small amount of the wax into a locket in place of a picture. Let it set and you’re good to go. The best thing about this is that the scent will last for a long time, and you can wear different scents each day.
Allergies and Safety
Allergic reactions to carrier oils are usually fairly rare if they are used sensibly. There are some exceptions, however. Nut-based carrier oils could be a danger for people with a nut allergy, and some people do experience skin irritation and photosensitivity from applying certain essential oils. The risk is much greater if you apply essential oils directly to the skin or if you use a very concentrated solution.
Most essential oils should be used at a two percent dilution level for adults. Some can be used in a more concentrated form, but two percent is a good rule of thumb.
Some essential oils can be harmful to pregnant women or should be avoided by women who are breastfeeding. If you’re not sure if an essential oil is safe, then you should talk to your doctor before starting to use it. Seek advice if you are on prescription medications too because certain essential oils can interact with medications and either make the effect of the medication stronger or block the effects.
If you are generally healthy and are just not sure whether you may negatively react to a given essential oil, then you should perform a spot test. Dilute the oil to an appropriate concentration and apply a few drops of it to the skin on the inside of your forearm.
Cover that skin with a bandage and leave it for several hours, then uncover it. If you do not notice redness, itching, swelling, or other adverse reactions, then it is probably safe to assume that you are not allergic to the oil and that you can use it without issue. Do this individually for all of the essential oils in any blend that you are making. This will ensure that if there is an adverse reaction, you will know which oil you are intolerant to, and you will still be able to confidently use the other oils.
Lemongrass, ylang-ylang, and cinnamon bark are some essential oils that more commonly cause allergic reactions.5 If you have relatively sensitive skin, then it may be worth avoiding those at first. The more dilute an essential oil preparation is, the less likely you are to have trouble with it.
Even highly diluted quantities of essential oils can have a beneficial effect, so don’t worry about over-diluting the oil. Mixing the oil with a more viscous carrier oil means that it will massage more easily and be more readily soaked into your skin where it can work its magic.
Essential oils can replace a lot of commercial skin and hair care products and even some cosmetics. Free yourself from expensive skincare brands and take a more natural approach to health and beauty with essential oils.
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